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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Luck

L is for luck
I am one of those rare people who can say they left Las Vegas with more money than they came with.

This was back when the slot machines still took quarters and you pulled the lever on the side to make the wheels spin around. I dropped about three dollars worth of coins before it paid out. The symbols all lined up and the lights started flashing and I swear a siren went off that made me think for a split second that I'd broken the machine. It took me awhile to realize I had actually won, because there weren't any coins shooting out at me. Finally some lounge rat gambler came over and pointed to the sign over my head that showed the size of the payout: $650 (uh, imagine how heavy six hundred dollars in quarters would have been). A few minutes later a manager walked out with a fist-full of hundred dollar bills and started slapping them down. Yeah, not bad for five minutes work.

I wonder sometimes how much luck comes into play in the publishing game. Some days I do think it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time with the right story. Other days I think it's just a matter of dogged effort and if I stay at it long enough it will happen.

Certainly talent, skill, and perseverance matter most, but for some I think there's that added something else. That element of luck. Of catching the elevator at a conference just when the dream agent jumps on and asks, "So, what do you write?"

Of course, there's also the old saying that luck is nothing more than preparedness meeting opportunity. And that works too. At least I can control the preparedness part.


public domain photo

27 comments:

  1. ah, I knew that Las Vegas wouldn't even know what's coming when you appear there :))
    And hurry up with publishing some of those great books of yours, I wanna translate them :)

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  2. I think a lot of it must be luck. Imagine how many people out there a new author is competing with, people who are working just as hard to get their voice heard. It's insane.
    Really nice post!

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  3. In my experience there is no such thing as luck. (Couldn't resist!)

    But seriously, I think "luck" is just a convenient word we use to label factors that we are unaware of and thus have no control over. Publishing may look like there's a lot of luck involved simply because the success of a book depends on such a large number of factors and we are not aware of many of them. But the word "luck" indicates a truly random arbitrary component and I don't think such a thing exists. Everything happens because of various reasons, even if we don't know what they are.

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  4. Dezz - It was a hit and run! They weren't getting that money back.

    Varmit - You gotta wonder sometimes...

    Sarah - And even if luck is a real phenomenon, it's out of our hands.

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  5. I can't help but think that if you keep at it, working hard and trying again and again, you increase the chances of being at the right place, right time and with the right story.

    Lovely post, by the way. I haven't been in a casino yet.

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  6. I agree with Claudie: it's all about increasing your chances by getting your stuff out there in circulation.

    You need a magic formula for transferring your Vegas luck to your writing. I advise shouting "Shazam!" and throwing confetti every time you hit "send" on a submission.

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  7. I think luck is a HUGE element. My thought is you have to do the work of making your writing as good as you can and then actively putting yourself out there. Submit, submit, submit and then blog your butt off. Great post! And yay you for winning.

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  8. Claudie - Yeah, that works too. :)

    Elizabeth - Shazam! Ha! I was saving the confetti for "the call" but I think you may be on to something. Gotta create some mojo for those emails.

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  9. Libby - this challenge has me blogging my butt off!

    I've got a conference to go to in a couple of weeks. I'm doing my part to be prepared, but I'm also hoping to bump into the right agent on the elevator. Of course, I plan on riding the elevator all day. hehe :-)

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  10. I do think that getting published is definitely being in the right place at the right time. And you've got luck on your side - lucky girl.

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  11. "The harder I work, the luckier I get" -Samuel Goldwyn

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  12. I think hard work is the way to go but I wouldn't mind a little luck too.

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  13. Ah, so you are one of those evil lucky people! I've heard of them. I've spent several hundreds of dollars in quarters in Vegas without ever striking anything. Now I know you'll get a great publishing deal before me, too!

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  14. Lauracea - Gotta figure out how to bottle that stuff!

    Munk - Now there you go being all practical and level headed.

    Susan - I don't mind working hard. Suits me fine. But, yeah, a little luck now and then wouldn't hurt either.

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  15. Ha! Ted, I beat you to a Vegas win. Don't know about the publishing deal. And I've lost a lot of money in Vegas since then. :)

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  16. I do think luck plays a part in getting published--although perseverance and, as you said, preparedness certainly help things.

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  17. I don't like to gamble but once when I was a mere child, I went to this place outside Arizona called Laughlin. Like a mini-Vegas. Totally won a bunch of cash and then had to bail because they wanted to see my ID.

    And yes I think luck has something to do with the publishing business too. So we have to control what we can...and stock up lucky rabbits feet. Poor little bunnies.

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  18. "I've worked long and hard to become an overnight success." Can't remember who said that but I think you're right, it has everything to do with preparedness. If we can't seize our opportunities, they'll pass us by.

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  19. Golden Eagle - I think for some people it plays a part. Maybe just a little.

    Marsha - You are soooooooo grounded.

    Jennifer - What a terrible feeling to have opportunity arrive and not be ready. And, yeah, it's happened to me before. Live and learn.

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  20. I love the 'preparedness meeting opportunity' idea.

    Do I believe luck can play a part in life? Absolutely. But I also believe if your main effort in life is: waiting for luck to happen, there's a good chance you're setting yourself up for failure.

    Great food for thought, yet again!

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  21. yep, it might sometimes start with luck, but then it's all about hard work

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  22. K.C. - Yes, like Munk quoted, "The harder I work the luckier I get." I think we do make our own luck sometimes.

    Lynda - Yeah, even the ones who get the perceived lucky break still have to work their butts off. Darn it. :(

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  23. I think there is an element of luck - or at least right place, right time. All we can do is the best we can to achieve our goals, and hope the cards fall in our favor.

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  24. I've always assumed goals are more about being pigheaded and pursuing them until accomplished, but I guess some people do get lucky and find shortcuts. I'm enjoying the journey so happy to share any portion of luck due my way around :)
    Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

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  25. Firstly congratulations on the award. If luck is indispensable in life, but must always be accompanied by other factors. I almost prefer to speak of coincidence of positive and negative factors. But the truth is that there are days that it is better not get up. A greeting.

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  26. Liz - so true.

    Charmaine - yeah, I think most of us realize it's about the work. But a little luck wouldn't be unwelcome sometimes. :)

    Leovi - Ooh, I like that: the coincidence of positive and negative factors.

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  27. THere's definitely elements of both, I think. After all, luck does almost no good if we're not prepared for it. :)

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